And, of course, by saying “survive” Halloween I don’t mean outrunning ax murderers in painted William Shatner masks or hiding from chainsaws and zombies. No, I’m talking about that part of Halloween that we all loved as children, gorging ourselves on our annual stash of chocolate. Pulling from the plastic pumpkin our loot, rationing out the favorites from the ones we are willing to trade.
Sure, as kids we could get away with such obnoxious and gluttonous behavior, but as adults it’s no longer cute. Nor is it exactly smart or waist line friendly. With Halloween exactly one week away and parties this weekend (I’m dressing up as the TARDIS), I figured now was the perfect time to offer some suggestions on how to make this holiday go from scary to sweet.
(I know, so cliched, right?)
Which brings us to option two: if you’re going to buy, buy smart. While Halloween overloads us with bags and bags of candy every time we go to the store, at least the candy comes in individual sized portions. “Snack size.” “Bite size.” A “Fun Size” bag of Milk Chocolate M&Ms is only 70 calories & 2 Weight Watchers points! Okay, sure, might not be as cool and exciting as the king sized candy bars you handed out last year, but does a six-year-old really need a king sized candy bar anyway?
Nobody says you have to start stocking up on Halloween candy as soon as the calendar switches to October. Light bulb moment here, but you can’t eat what you don’t buy. So if you’re really worried about breaking into the stash before the first child-sized ghost appears on your front door, then hold off until the last possible minute to buy the candy. May actually end up being cheaper that way, too.
My mom always knew we’d have leftovers so she’d buy stuff she knew my sister and I would happily take and add to our candy collections. That’s one option. Another is to take the leftovers to work and give them to your co-workers or friends. Or you can always throw it away. Again, if it’s not in your house then you can’t indulge. Of course, the ultimate goal is to end up with an empty bowl, so as the night goes on start handing out bigger portion sizes. Might make up for the missing king sized candy bar.
Break Me Off A Piece Of That Kit Kat Bar
As soon as you tell yourself you’re not allowed to eat X, then all you want to eat is X. And the longer you go without eating X, the more you’re going to crave it. And when you finally do give in to eating X, you’ll be so guilt-ridden about eating this thing you’re not supposed to eat that you go a little crazy and it’s, well, not pretty.
That being said, nix the big bowl of candy corn. If you’re just mindlessly munching on handfuls of candy, you have no way of knowing how much you actually consumed. Part of not making food a big deal is by treating all food the same. That means keep track of the points or calories just as you would the banana you had with breakfast.
Dealing With the Sour Patch Kids
If you have children, Halloween is the perfect opportunity to teach them healthy eating habits. Like, just because you are randomly given several pounds worth of free candy doesn’t mean you have to actually keep it all, let alone eat it. At work I’m constantly faced with bags of bagels and boxes of doughnuts that coworkers bring in but it’s not like I see it as a free pass to gorge. Let them keep some, but give (or throw) away the rest.
Use this holiday as a chance to talk about how dessert can easily follow dinner every night if handled properly. This means moderation, not deprivation. Hiding the candy with the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality might seem like a good idea, but all that really does is reinforce the idea that candy is taboo and needs to be avoided. Teaching kids about portion control and a balanced diet with occasional treats is the best way to make sure they grow up with a healthy relationship with food, so that means teaching them how to walk past the bowl of candy without always reaching in to grab some. Speaking of dinner, before they get all costumed up, make sure they have a good hearty dinner that leaves them satisfied. They’ll be less likely to start eating their stash before they even make it home.
Don’t Be Afraid To Be A Nerd
For example: Friday night, my friends and I are gathering for our annual horror movie marathon. Food, naturally, will be present to munch on during the films. I can either leave myself vulnerable to whatever everyone else brings or I can bring a snack to share and guarantee at least one thing I can eat guilt free. It’s with that same reasoning that I offered to make dessert for Thanksgiving this year.
One of the (almond) joys of being an adult (sorry, had to throw just one more in there) is getting to set our own terms. Take advantage of that glorious opportunity whenever you can.